Con Report: Confluence 2018

Confluence 2018I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since my first visit to Confluence as a professional writer. In 2013, I was promoting a speculative fiction anthology I had edited and announcing my contract with Dog Star Books to publish my first novel the next year. Now, my fourth novel comes out next month, and Confluence has become one of my favorite conventions. A weekend where I can relax, have fun with friends, and meet awesome new authors.

FRIDAY

Got a later start than usual because I had to get some day-job work done in the morning, but I hit the road by 11 AM. Considering I drive to western Pennsylvania a few times a year now, I have my routine down to a science. I arrived at the convention hotel in mid-afternoon, immediately got to hug some friends, and had plenty of time to check into my room before my first programming event.  Continue reading

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Confluence 2018 Schedule

Confluence 2018

For my second annual trip to western Pennsylvania this summer, I’ll be headed for Confluence, the speculative fiction literary convention hosted by Parsec, Pittsburgh’s science-fiction and fantasy society. I have a great time there every year, and I’m excited to head back this upcoming weekend.

Due to miscommunications in a few different fronts, my schedule for the weekend is lighter than normal. That means more time to hang out with people and have fun! Let me know if you’ll be around and want to grab a meal, a drink, or a coffee (I like all of the above).

FRIDAY

6:00 PM: Bring On the Bad Guys (panel)
What makes a good villain? What makes great villains so memorable? With R. K. Thorne, Joshua Bellin, Frederic S. Durbin, and Stephen C. Fisher

SATURDAY

11:00 AM: Blurring the Lines: Writing Across Genres (panel)
How we blend SF, fantasy, horror, romance, mystery, and other genres. With Brian Koscienski and Larry Ivkovich

12:00 PM: Reading from the Steel Empires series

SUNDAY

12:00 PM: Autograph session with S. C. Butler and Barbara Doran

Con Report: Balticon 52

balticon logoIf you’re here for a copy of my alternate history presentation, read on!

I consider Balticon my “local” con for many reasons — it was the first SF/F convention I attended as an adult (back in college), it’s currently located a few blocks from where I worked for almost a decade, and Baltimore is the city that I’ve adopted as home. So it was a genuine pleasure to be invited back for a second year to be on programming, and I had a blast.  Continue reading

Con Report: Cleveland ConCoction 2018

Cleveland ConCoction 2018 logo

As always, I had a fantastic time at Cleveland ConCoction this year! It’s one of my favorite cons, for the people I get to see, how many books I tend to sell, and especially how well this convention treats the authors they invite to participate in programming. I wish other conventions would take note!

FRIDAY

My flight from Baltimore to Cleveland was smooth. But after collecting my bags in Cleveland, it was time for something totally new. Since ConCoction moved hotels this year, I had to rent a car to get there. I’d never rented a car before! But the process was smooth, and I drove a nice Ford Focus hatchback out of the rental lot.

Luckily, the snow had tapered off and the roads were clear, so I only had to deal with flurries during the drive. I arrived at the hotel with enough time to drop my bags off in a friend’s room, then it was off to three panels in a row!

First, I moderated a panel on coming up with characters, where we discussed elements of character creation and everything from basing characters on real people to effective ways to leave things up to the reader. Then, I launched right into a panel on mistakes that beginning authors tend to make. This discussion touched on both writing issues and submission issues, and we got some great questions from the audience. The themes I tend to push on panels like this are “Don’t be a jerk” and “There’s no one, right way.” Finally, supported by soda and chips acquired by a friend, I headed for a discussion on author perspectives on fanfiction. We never really reach consensus, which is totally fine. All authors have different goals with their careers and different ways they are willing to get others play in their sandbox.  Continue reading

Con Report: Farpoint 2018

Farpoint2

Last weekend, I attended my first Farpoint convention! You could say that I got my start in speculative fiction as a Star Trek fan, so it was nice to get back to my roots, as it were.

FRIDAY

Since this is a “local” convention for me, I commuted from home rather than staying at the hotel. After working half a day in the morning, I headed north of Baltimore by mid-afternoon to get the lay of the land. My first panel was at 4 PM, which involved a fantastic discussion with other authors and readers about creating immersive worlds in speculative fiction (and writing in general). We discussed how to incorporate just enough detail (but not too much detail!) to allow a reader to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride in any genre.

My second panel was immediately after, where I switched gears into fan mode and discussed “All Things Winchester.” Supernatural is currently in season 13, and not everyone was caught up, so we kept it general in our discussion of how the show is successful thematically, various character issues, favorite episodes, and theories regarding the upcoming spin-off, Wayward Sisters.

I didn’t have any of my usual writing tribe at this convention, so I steeled myself and asked if I could join one of my fellow Supernatural panelists, cosplayer Jessica Crouse, if I could join her group for dinner. I’m so glad that I did, because I made some amazing new friends over the course of the weekend through that one act of courage! We had a great dinner and evening of hanging out, then it was back to the hotel for the evening book fair.  Continue reading